Monday, January 25, 2016
How to Work Safely in Cold Weather
There is nothing you can do about the weather, and working outside in the cold winter months puts you at additional risk for injuries and illnesses. Know how to prepare and what to do should the worst happen.
Wear the Right Cold-Weather Gear
The most important thing you can do is wear the appropriate cold weather garments. A set of clothing should be designed to hold up to the elements while also keeping you warm and dry. They need to give you free range of motion while you are performing your job or working with equipment.
In general, it is advisable to wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothing. You cannot always tell how the weather might change during the day. The layers allow you to adjust to the needs of the situation. Even if it looks like the day will be warmer, keep your heaviest gear with you just in case.
An inner layer ought to provide thermal protection and be resistant to moisture. Keeping skin dry is important to maintaining your body’s core temperature. Wear an undergarment made of wool, silk, or a specially designed synthetic. Your middle layer provides you with thermal insulation, while the outer layer is there to keep the rain, wind, and snow out. It needs to be water tight but still breathable so that you don’t overheat while working.
Cover up your head with a hood or hat that offers enough insulation to protect your ears. Gloves are essential, but make sure your hands are still free enough to grip equipment and tools. Wear waterproof boots and at least two layers of thermal socks.
Plan Ahead for the Cold
Know what the weather is going to be like before you head out to work. If it is at all possible, try to schedule your work shift for the warmest parts of the day. Some occupations do not have this luxury. Cold-weather cleanup crews and emergency responders must brave the cold no matter what time of day.
Anticipate the working conditions you will encounter as well. Working in the cold is bad enough, but there are even more dangers when your environment is wet or icy. Bring all of the gear you think you may need.
To keep your body temperature at safe levels, you should also take care of your overall health. As you experience the cold, your body works harder to maintain it’s safe temperature. Drink plenty of water, but avoid alcohol and caffeine. Eat high calorie meals like pasta to give your body plenty of energy to burn off throughout the day.
Know When to Get Help
You should never work alone or assume that you are immune to the consequences of hypothermia or frostbite. Pair up and use the buddy system. Slurred speech, confusion, and exhaustion are symptoms of hypothermia. Frostbite attacks your skin and causes it to freeze. Your extremities may swell or become numb and turn white. Know the early warning signs of these conditions, and stop work immediately to seek medical attention if one of you starts to exhibit symptoms.
You’ve got a job to do regardless of unfavorable weather conditions, but your safety is your primary concern. Make sure you are ready to face the cold. Plan ahead, wear the appropriate gear, and be ready to respond to emergencies.
Posted by betchai at 9:02 AM